You've probably seen viral videos of a first-time driver crushing two cars trying to park or smashing into a brick wall while trying to back up.
Nobody can know everything about operating their car perfectly the first time out. However, we hope these tips will help you avoid problems and stay safe on the road.
We need more safe drivers, make sure you're one of them!
Our first-time driver safety tips can help you avoid accidents because of distracted driving, as well as remind you of safe driving habits:
- Keep both hands on the wheel
- Don't use your cell phone while driving. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), if you're driving 55 mph and take your eyes off the road for five seconds for a text, you've driven the length of a football field without seeing where you're going or detecting another car in your path. Unfortunately- it's common to text and drive in spite of it being illegal: the NHTSA reports that more than 480,000 people text and drive every day.
- Wear your seat belt. More than 90 percent of people use seatbelts. They saved 15,000 lives in 2016, but according to the NHTSA, 2,500 people still lost their lives because they didn't buckle up.
- Check and adjust your mirrors before driving. Don't risk an unsafe lane change or parking lot mishap.
- Stay within the speed limit. Speeding took the lives of more than 9,700 people in 2017, more than 26% of all fatal crashes.
Maintaining your car is also part of being a safe driver
Your car comes with an owner's manual. You can read it to see what your manufacturer recommends, but here are some general guidelines for car maintenance:
- Change your oil every 5,000 to 7,000 miles. Check your owner's manual for the kind of oil the manufacturer recommends for your car. Learn how to change your own oil properly or take advantage of repair shop coupons and oil change specials. Failing to change your oil causes unnecessary wear and tear on your car, resulting in oil contaminated with metal and potentially, expensive breakdowns and repairs.
- Once a month, check your tire pressure and rotate your tires every 7,500 miles. If you buy new tires, consider a shop that offers free pressure checks and tire rotations.
- Change your brake pads every 25,000 miles or when recommended in your car's service manual.
- Change your engine air filter every 30,000 miles or once a year.
- When you wash and clean your car, check your wiper fluid and antifreeze and top off if needed.
Finally, make sure you are fully insured and have the car insurance you need
Every state except New Hampshire requires auto liability insurance. New Hampshire requires a financial bond; and a guaranteed deposit of $50,000 to drive if you are uninsured and in an accident. All other states mandate how much liability coverage you should have to drive. Liability insurance covers damage to the other vehicle in the unfortunate event you're in an accident. If you are leasing your car or are making loan payments, those contracts will require you to have specific amounts and types of insurance besides state requirements. Other types of insurance include:
- Collision insurance, which pays for your car's repairs in case of an accident.
- Personal injury protection, which pays for medical expenses for you and passengers in your car.
- Comprehensive insurance, which pays for damage to your car or other losses like theft, vandalism, or "acts of nature" like storms or tornadoes.
Traditional auto insurance doesn't pay for mechanical repairs your car might need or replacement parts or maintenance. An extended auto warranty is a service contract covering your car's maintenance and repair; it could save you thousands of dollars in repair costs.
Keep yourself safe on the road by following good driving practices and maintaining your car. Protect yourself and your car with an extended auto warranty and the car insurance that's right for your needs.